Even with a two-goal lead at halftime of Tuesday night's District 5-A/AA soccer semifinal, Boyd-Buchanan couldn't feel secure.
Playing against a tough Loudon offense, the top-seeded Buccaneers felt they would need more. But after matching its first-half scoring total in the second period, Boyd-Buchanan secured a 4-1 victory and the right to host Thursday's district final.
The Bucs will face Arts & Sciences in the championship match after the Patriots defeated Silverdale Baptist 2-0 in their semifinal on Tuesday.
"They're a very strong offensive team," Boyd-Buchanan coach Jason Owens said of Loudon. "We told the guys at halftime that two goals might not win this game. They move the ball around really well, and they've got guys who can shoot. We have a lot of respect for their offense."
Although both teams created scoring opportunities throughout the match, the Bucs had better luck finishing them. They got on the board about 15 minutes into the match when Hunter Bradford sent in a ball from Kenny Diaz, and Jeremy Borders gave Boyd-Buchanan a 2-0 halftime lead after another assist from Diaz six minutes later.
"I thought we started well," Boyd-Buchanan coach Dustin Walker said. "Typically it takes us a little while to get warmed up, but for the past couple of games, we've been starting strong. Getting the first goal helps so much. We knew Loudon was a very, very good team. Their coach has done a great job with them, and they've been getting better and better throughout the year. We knew this was going to be a tough game, so getting that first goal was big."
With the advantage at the half, the goal for the Bucs in the second period became to avoid letting up. Zach Jenkins responded by heading in a corner from Diaz with 23 minutes remaining. Loudon scored its lone goal off a penalty kick about five minutes later, but Boyd-Buchanan keeper Andreas Mosvold made eight other saves in earning the win.
Diaz contributed his fourth assist after sending a ball to Ryan Watkins, who angled it past the Loudon keeper with 7:42 left to play for the fourth and final goal for the Bucs.
"Mainly we were just telling them to keep up the intensity and the pressure," Boyd-Buchanan coach Jacob Campbell said. "We felt like we were really successful when we provided constant pressure, especially in their defensive third. That's what we've hammered on all year, just coming out with intensity and staying with it the whole game."
The victory improves the Bucs' record to 13-3-1. They will host CSAS for the district title on Thursday in a rematch of the teams' 2-1 regular-season meeting won by Boyd-Buchanan.
"We're playing our best soccer right now," Owens said. "We've moved people around, and we've improved throughout the year. This was a good test tonight, and CSAS is going to be a great test, but we really feel like we've gotten better and better each game."
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com)